NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court's query asking a rape accused whether he would marry the victim was based on "judicial records" containing an undertaking of the man that he would marry the minor girl, a relative, after she attains 18 years of age, it was stated on Wednesday.
The remarks by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde on Monday during the hearing of a plea of the accused, who had challenged the cancellation of his anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court's Aurangabad bench, had invited sharp reactions.
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat wrote to CJI Bobde and urged him to withdraw his remarks, saying that courts should not give an impression of supporting such "retrograde" approaches.
Several women's rights activists, eminent citizens, intellectuals, writers and artistes had also written an open letter to the CJI demanding an apology and retraction of his remarks.
An apex court official termed the criticism as unfair and referred to the judicial records of the case.
"When the informant (rape victim) along with her mother reached at police station to lodge the proposed complaint, mother of the Petitioner (accused) requested them not to lodge any complaint as she accepts the guilt of the Petitioner and she is ready to make the informant her daughter-in-law."
"It is further alleged that, after execution of notarized undertaking on 02.06. 2018, when the informant became 18 year old, the mother of informant requested the mother of Petitioner to perform the said promised marriage but she refused the same and therefore the informant lodged the present complaint against the petitioner," said the plea of the accused.
The pleadings to the effect in the petition of the accused, who is a relative of the victim, had prompted the bench to put such queries, the apex court official said.
When the hearing on the plea commenced, the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, had asked the accused, "Are you willing to marry her?" "If you are willing to marry her then we can consider it, otherwise you will go to jail," observed the bench, adding, "We are not forcing you to marry."
The bench had disposed off the plea of the accused and had asked him to seek regular bail from the court concerned.